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First Name: Charles

Last Name: Watters

Birthplace: Jersey City, NJ, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Joseph

Date of Birth: 17 January 1927

Date of Death: 19 November 1967

Rank: Major

Years Served: 1962 - 1964 (ANG), 1964 - 1967 (USA)
Charles Joseph Watters

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Charles Joseph Watters
Major, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
Vietnam War

Major Charles Joseph Watters (17 January 1927 - 19 November 1967) was a Chaplain (Catholic) in the U.S. Army. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the Vietnam War. Chaplain Watters is one of seven chaplains to receive the Medal of Honor.

Charles Joseph Watters was born on 17 January 1927 in Jersey City, NJ. Watters attended Seton Hall Preparatory School and went on to graduate from Seton Hall University. He was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1953 and served in parishes in Jersey City, Rutherford, Paramus, and Cranford, NJ.

Watters was an active private pilot, flying small single-engine planes as far as Argentina. In 1962, he became a chaplain with the New Jersey Air National Guard. In 1964, he entered active duty as a chaplain with the U.S. Army. He began his first 12-month tour of duty in Vietnam on 5 July 1966. During his first tour, he was awarded the Air Medal and a Bronze Star for Valor. At the end of his first twelve months, in July 1967, he voluntarily extended his tour for an additional six months.

On 19 November 1967, Chaplain Watters' unit was involved in close combat with the enemy. For his "conspicuous gallantry ... unyielding perseverance and selfless devotion to his comrades" on that day, Chaplain Watters was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to

United States Army

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Chaplain Watters distinguished himself during an assault in the vicinity of Dak To. Chaplain Watters was moving with one of the companies when it engaged a heavily armed enemy battalion. As the battle raged and the casualties mounted, Chaplain Watters, with complete disregard for his safety, rushed forward to the line of contact. Unarmed and completely exposed, he moved among, as well as in front of the advancing troops, giving aid to the wounded, assisting in their evacuation, giving words of encouragement, and administering the last rites to the dying. When a wounded paratrooper was standing in shock in front of the assaulting forces, Chaplain Watters ran forward, picked the man up on his shoulders and carried him to safety. As the troopers battled to the first enemy entrenchment, Chaplain Watters ran through the intense enemy fire to the front of the entrenchment to aid a fallen comrade. A short time later, the paratroopers pulled back in preparation for a second assault. Chaplain Watters exposed himself to both friendly and enemy fire between the two forces in order to recover two wounded soldiers. Later, when the battalion was forced to pull back into a perimeter, Chaplain Watters noticed that several wounded soldiers were lying outside the newly formed perimeter. Without hesitation and ignoring attempts to restrain him, Chaplain Watters left the perimeter three times in the face of small arms, automatic weapons, and mortar fire to carry and to assist the injured troopers to safety. Satisfied that all of the wounded were inside the perimeter, he began aiding the medics ... applying field bandages to open wounds, obtaining and serving food and water, giving spiritual and mental strength and comfort. During his ministering, he moved out to the perimeter from position to position redistributing food and water, and tending to the needs of his men. Chaplain Watters was giving aid to the wounded when he himself was mortally wounded. Chaplain Watters' unyielding perseverance and selfless devotion to his comrades was in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.

Watters' Medal of Honor was presented to his family at the White House by Vice President Spiro T. Agnew on 4 November 1969.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
Air Medal

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The name Charles Joseph Watters is inscribed on Panel 30E, Row 036.


The bridge on Route 3 in New Jersey spanning the Passaic River between Clifton and Rutherford has been named in honor of Chaplain Watters.

Death and Burial

Major Charles Joseph Watters was killed in action on 19 November 1967. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, in Section 2-E, Grave 186-A.

Honoree ID: 1104   Created by: MHOH




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